Mexico - Wednesday 8 December 1999
Early rise. Today, we're heading back to Mexico, and it's a long journey. Wolfgang and I have breakfast at Popeye's by half-past 6.
The boat departs at half-past 7, this time without any issues. It's wonderful to take some photos in the light of the rising sun.
The light reflects beautifully on the water.
But equally beautiful is the woman sitting next to Laura. She looks calmly into the camera as I take a picture of her.
In Belize City, this time we take a minibus to the bus station. While waiting, dozens of schoolchildren in uniforms pass by.
In the bus toward Mexico, there's a whole group of Dutch people. I believe they were at the Rainbow Hotel in Caye Caulker. They complain about everything, very negatively inclined. With a tour guide who is very nice but treats her group like children. In this case, maybe that's for the best.
The woman I photographed on the boat, I encounter again. She bids me goodbye when we get off the bus in Chetumal. Funny.
Later, I discover she's sitting behind me in the bus to Playa del Carmen (in Mexico, you have assigned seats on the bus). Her name is Andrea, and she's from southern Germany. We have a pleasant conversation for a long time. She's quit her job to travel (just like Liz). It's striking how many people do that. Andrea is very interested, looks me straight in the eyes, and enthusiastically tells me about all she still wants to do before going back home. Cuba, the US, another four months of traveling.
It's funny: when I'm having an extensive conversation with Andrea, the rest of my group reacts tremendously, especially Liz. Positively this time. She gives me a thumbs-up. Yet, for me, it's not much more than just a nice conversation. Sure, we have occasional eye contact, and at some point, the conversation becomes quite personal. About how traveling can change your view of life. It's a pleasant feeling, emphasizing that enjoying life and doing fun things are much more important than a career.
Andrea gets off in Tulum. There are ruins there, as well as hotels and beach huts. It's odd: you have a nice personal conversation, but only afterward do you realize how extraordinary it actually was. So, I didn't ask for an address, an email, nothing. I only know her name is Andrea and she's from southern Germany. I'll never see her again, and frankly, I find that quite regrettable.
At the bus station, we bid a real farewell to Maria. She continues on the same bus to Cancún, where she'll catch an early morning flight tomorrow.
In the part of Playa del Carmen where our hotel is, the power is out. Just before we arrived, there was an enormous storm, and the electricity here can't handle it well. Candles are lit everywhere. We go to have something to eat in the city. There are groups of children singing songs. They're raising money for a music night or something similar at their school.
Gail suggests that I should go look for Andrea in Tulum. I'm not entirely sure if it's that important to me. I mull it over deep into the night.